Winter Time at an Anchorage Drive-In Theater

by Michael R Dougherty
(California)

Anchorage Drive-In Theater

Anchorage Drive-In Theater

The picture above is either the old Billiken or Sundowner Drive-in theater in Anchorage.

Remember going to one of the drive-in theaters in Anchorage during the winter months?

One of the good things at that time of year was that it was actually dark enough outside to see the movie on the screen. In the Summer months, it was hard to see the movie because it was still light outside.

In the winter, you had to roll down your driver's side car window, grab the speaker and hang it off your window so you could hear the movie. Of course that meant cold air and maybe even snow coming into your car.

The Sundowner drive-in, located behind the Fireweed indoor theater, also had small heaters hanging on the post beside your car. The Billiken may have also offered heaters, but I don't remember that drive-in very well.

The heaters would blow warm air into your vehicle. If the heater was working. Sometimes, when you first turned them on, they would blow snow and ice into your car.

And lets not forget that cold trip to the concession stand. Here you were in your nice, warm car, and if you wanted a soda, popcorn or those burgers and fries they sold, some poor soul had to volunteer to make the cold trek from the warmth of your car to the waiting concession stand.

But Alaskans are a hearty breed and aren't about to let something like a little cold and snow keep them from an otherwise fun evening at a drive-in movie.

Sadly, most drive-in theaters are a thing of the past across the lower 48. But in Anchorage, Alaska we all have memories of driving our cars and trucks into the theater and parking in one of those spaces next to a speaker post.

And near the end of the movie you would always hear this come over your car speaker - "the concession stand will close in 10 minutes. The concession stand will close in 10 minutes."

Check out 4th Avenue Theater; Hold the Butter right now

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Nov 07, 2018
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First time I saw KISS was at the Sundowner
by: Anonymous

I was in the military and a few of us guys went to the Sundowner Drive-in to see Savoy brown.

Never did we know we would be seeing KISS! Wow!

Savoy brown couldn't touch them! I still have the ticket. They aren't even on it! I wrote kiss on the back of my ticket. l am going to there end of the road tour in April 2019 in Florida.

Jun 21, 2018
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Sundowner on Fireweed
by: Steve Tolley

Picture is of the Sundowner on Fireweed. Behind the indoor Fireweed Theaters.

That was the location of the KISS concert in June 1974. I built the stage for that concert. KB Bettisworth (Alaska Sound Labs) did the sound and OZOSalad Lights (Steve and Chris Bacon, et al) did the lights. It was promoted by Nebula productions.

A few local bands did the early warmups. Don't remember any but "Flight". And then it was Savoy Brown. They were good.

Then KISS late in the evening. This was KISS's first tour and they were just learning the ropes. Gene Simmons mentioned in the TV show "When KISS Ruled the World) that some of the places/stages they played were dangerous. I knew who/where he was talking about. Read further below for that story.

The stage was a real problem as the movies were shown the night before and after the concert.

The stage was about 40 feet tall on the sides and back and blocked the movie screen. So it had to be put up and taken down in one day. It was the largest stage ever built for a concert in Alaska at that time.

KISS wanted the whole stage encased in black so their pyrotechnics could be seen. We tried to wrap the whole stage in black visqueen.

What happened then was it caught the wind and started to tip the whole stage over. That was with about 30 people, all of the PA and sound gear from all the bands.

There were people yelling, running, and jumping off that sucker.

We did not come up with a solution before the music started so we had to just cut it and let it hang. It looked pretty bad. But since it was still daylight at 11PM all that black plastic did not help anyway.

I was also part of security and we had a huge problem with people ramming cars into the fence behind the stage and people streaming through faster than we could catch them.

I was so exhausted I slept through most of KISS but woke up to hear a couple of tunes and then start ripping the whole thing down.

We were all very young and inexperienced but it was fun. Did not make any money though!

BTW: The Billiken was on Muldoon Rd when it ran around through a few curves almost to Tudor. Then they changed Muldoon to run around one sweeping curve where it became Tudor.

Mar 06, 2017
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Sundowner
by: Teena Malaski

It's the Sundowner.

I remember the Billikin in the middle of nowhere. Way out of town, ha ha Seward hwy. My dad told us we could not go there because all they showed were "adult" movies lol! It was near the old raceway and auction. Past Diamond

Dec 27, 2016
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Drive-in
by: Keo

My first job was working the concession.

Dec 27, 2016
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Winter Time at an Anchorage Drive-In Theater
by: Anonymous

Pretty sure it was the Sundowner on Fireweed...

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